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August 13, 2008

Stonehouse aims to brighten its image

Major new funding has been awarded to the Stonehouse community in South Lanarkshire which will allow them to create a new community garden right in the heart of the village. Local groups have come together to design plans to give the village a complete overhaul and this funding will allow Phase 1 to be completed


STONEHOUSE is to benefit from a large-scale makeover with the proceeds of a £135,000 grant awarded earlier this month.

The money, provided by Scottish Community Foundation, will be used to create an accessible community garden in the heart of the village.

Stonehouse Brighter Village and Stonehouse Development Trust worked together on plans for the King Street plot (opposite the Co-op).

The development will include a paved area, planting, seating and extra parking spaces. As well as being fully wheelchair accessible, the garden will feature planting that can be enjoyed by those suffering from sensory deprivation.

The grant, secured on July 9, will be used to carry out phase one of the project, which will include all major development work.

Bill Craw, chairman of development trust and board member of Stonehouse Brighter Village, said: “This is great news for Stonehouse.

“It is the result of a close working relationship between the brighter village project and Stonehouse Development Trust with the support of the community council.

“The facilities that will be developed at the heart of the village will enrich and strengthen the bonds of community which already exist in Stonehouse.”

Funding from the Scottish Community Foundation was allocated through the Fair Share Trust. A total of £50m was put in the trust by the Big Lottery Funding scheme to address the fact that certain areas had missed out on Lottery funding in the early years.

The money is to be spent over ten years on 75 communities, one of which is the Stonehouse, Larkhall, Ashgill and Netherburn ‘region’.

Scottish Community Foundation’s grants director Nick Addington said: “When considering an application, we look specifically at addressing the three ‘local priorities’ that have been identified for that area.

“In this area, these priorities are to develop and support services for young people, to develop strong community spirit by encouraging community participation, and to support community-led solutions to crime and improvements to the appearance of the area.

“The fact that several groups are working together on the Stonehouse community garden project is something we were particularly attracted to.”

Plans first went into action last year when the Brighter Village Group approached South Lanarkshire Council for permission to spruce up the green space with some new plants.

After completing the planting project, the group decided they wanted to do something on a grander scale and went to Stonehouse Development Trust to look at ways of further improving the plot.

After drawing up initial plans and holding a series of community consultations, the Wise Group, a social inclusion charity, were contacted to look at the possibility of using the project as a training opportunity for the unemployed.

With their help, it is thought that about 10 trainees will be taken on throughout the course of the Stonehouse project.

Although dates have not yet been confirmed, it is hoped that trainees will be recruited later this year.

Stonehouse Development Trust hope the garden, when completed, will be used by local groups as well as the public and that it will be viewed as a valuable and attractive resource.

Development trust officer Jeff Frew said: “As well as attracting visitors to Stonehouse, we want this to be a place people can come and enjoy.

“We also hope to involve local school children when we get to the stage of choosing plants for the development.”

Funding for phase two of the project, which will involve finishing touches such as planting, is still to be sourced.

Information about the works will be posted in the window of the trust office on King Street.